The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking at playing ahead of schedule this season. A young, talented team who appeared primed to be a contender in the future, is already throwing their hat into playoff contention. The idea of them showing promise was essentially the goal of this year.
They are one of the youngest teams in the NHL, and just showing improvement from month-to-month was going to be viewed as an accomplishment. Take into consideration that their prized possession, Austin Matthews, is only a rookie in the NHL. Mitch Marner is also getting his feet wet for the first time in the NHL. William Nylander is also playing in his first full season as a Leaf.
In other words, the core on this team is young as can be, and they’re already playing at a high level of play. The future is promising in Toronto, after so many dreadful years as a laughing stock of the league. They shouldn’t be laughed at no longer. I expect the Maple Leafs to make the playoffs this season.
Are they going to make any noise in the postseason? I don’t think so, at least for this season. If another team wants to take them lightly, yeah, they could win a round. Nevertheless, getting past the second-round, especially with the talent in the Eastern Conference, is going to be a chore.
The Leafs currently assume 3rd in the Atlantic, and the Senators who have the final wildcard have the same amount of points, 91. Needless to say, there is little room for error. The Leafs travel to Buffalo tonight, where there will surely be plenty of Leaf Nation on hand. Get our exclusive, free Maple Leafs vs. Sabres pick below.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres Pick
The Maple Leafs enter Monday night with a record of 38-24-7. The way I see it, if the Leafs fail to reach the playoffs it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow. But at the same time, the next few years is going to be an exciting time to be a Maple Leafs’ fan.
Toronto have been playing fantastic hockey, winning six of their last seven tilts. If you recall, the Leafs started fairly slow across the first couple of months. Notably, the goaltending was shaky at best. Once Frederik Andersen got settled in, though, positive results followed.
This young, dynamic offence has been superb in Toronto. They’re averaging 3.08 goals per game, 5th in the NHL. In their last ten games, the Leafs have scored an average of 3.40 goals per game. Conversely, the Sabres have been their usual topsy-turvy selves, averaging 2.30 goals per game, while allowing 2.50 goals a game. The Sabres are out of the playoff picture, but they do have a couple of wins over the Leafs in a row. Buffalo can spoil the Leafs playoff plans even more at home on Monday. I don’t expect that to transpire, though. I expect a focused and motivated Leafs team to get the job done. We like the Leafs for our Monday night NHL pick.
PICK: MAPLE LEAFS (-150)